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Great Blue Heron

Ardea herodias

Description:

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) at Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida. << The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is a large wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae, ... Notable features include slaty flight feathers, red-brown thighs, and a paired red-brown and black stripe up the flanks; the neck is rusty-gray, with black and white streaking down the front; the head is paler, with a nearly white face, and a pair of black plumes running from just above the eye to the back of the head. The feathers on the lower neck are long and plume-like; it also has plumes on the lower back at the start of the breeding season. The bill is dull yellowish, becoming orange briefly at the start of the breeding season, and the lower legs gray, also becoming orangey at the start of the breeding season. Immature birds are duller in color, with a dull blackish-gray crown, and the flank pattern only weakly defined; they have no plumes, and the bill is dull gray-yellow. >>

Habitat:

The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is a large wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae, common near the shores of open water and in wetlands over most of North and Central America as well as the West Indies and the Galápagos Islands. It is a rare vagrant to Europe, with records from Spain, the Azores and England. It is the largest North American heron, with a head-to-tail length of 91–140 cm (36–55 in), a wingspan of 167–201 cm (66–79 in), a height of 115–138 cm (45–54 in) and a weight of 2–3.6 kg (4.4–8 lbs). Notable features include slaty flight feathers, red-brown thighs, and a paired red-brown and black stripe up the flanks; the neck is rusty-gray, with black and white streaking down the front; the head is paler, with a nearly white face, and a pair of black plumes running from just above the eye to the back of the head. The feathers on the lower neck are long and plume-like; it also has plumes on the lower back at the start of the breeding season. The bill is dull yellowish, becoming orange briefly at the start of the breeding season, and the lower legs gray, also becoming orangey at the start of the breeding season. Immature birds are duller in color, with a dull blackish-gray crown, and the flank pattern only weakly defined; they have no plumes, and the bill is dull gray-yellow. The primary food for Great Blue Heron is small fish, though it is also known to opportunistically feed on a wide range of shrimp, crabs, aquatic insects, rodents and other small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and small birds. Herons locate their food by sight and usually swallow it whole. Herons have been known to choke on prey that is too large. It is generally a solitary feeder. Individuals usually forage while standing in water, but will also feed in fields or drop from the air, or a perch, into water. As large wading birds, Great Blue Herons are able to feed in deeper waters, and thus are able to harvest from niche areas not open to most other heron species. It feeds in shallow water or at the water's edge during both the night and the day, but especially around dawn and dusk. It uses its long legs to wade through shallow water, and spears fish or frogs with its long, sharp bill. (credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Blue_...)

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JackEng
Spotted by
JackEng

Homestead, Florida, USA

Spotted on Mar 17, 2012
Submitted on Mar 25, 2012

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Reference

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